Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Academomia's Guide to Feeding Your Baby

1. Be sure to re-up your Vicodin at least thirty minutes, but no more than one hour, before feeding time.

2. Have husband change your already-hungry baby's diaper. This will get him good and mad and ready to go.

3. Grasp baby's head firmly in your hand, being careful not to fold his ears in half with your fingers or leave permanent marks. Hold the baby's body close to your body with the elbow of the same arm. Do the Hokey Pokey and You Turn Yourself Around, clap clap cla-clap clap clap.

4. Using your other hand, grab the boob with four fingers underneath and your thumb on top. The exact configuration will make perfect sense when the lactation consultant is standing next to your bed arranging your fingers for you, but will elude you every single time you feed the baby after you leave the hospital.

5. Take slow deep breaths and go to your happy place for a moment while you wait for the baby to stop opening and closing his mouth like the clown at a miniature golf course.

6. Get a towel and dry off all the milk that dripped onto the baby's face while you were waiting that he is now licking off in lieu of doing the hard work of sucking.

7. Repeat Steps 3 and 4

8. Lose patience and try to force him to latch on, whereupon he will bite the hell out of you and resume the miniature golf clown mouth routine. Clench your teeth and try not to scream "HOLY SHITBALLS" loud enough for your in-laws to hear from downstairs.

9. Fondly remember the days when they sent mothers home from the hospital with a big bag of formula samples.

10. Repeat Steps 3 and 4. Indefinitely.

11. If you wait long enough, the baby will tire of toying with you and open his mouth nice and wide. This is your signal to DEPLOY! DEPLOY! DEPLOY!

12. While simultaneously doing something very important with the boob hand that I can't remember for the life of me and holding the baby's bottom close to your body with your elbow, use the other hand to fling the baby's head towards you in such a way that his mouth lands in the correct position on the nipple. This will take some practice, as you will have about four-tenths of a second to complete the maneuver before the baby clamps his hungry little mouth closed again. It will help if you have previous training as a sniper for the CIA. Or a ninja. Repeat until the baby relaxes and begins swallowing milk. Or until he begins frantically gulping it down because he is starving after the twenty-minute delay caused by Steps 2-11.

13. Evaluate pain level. In the words of the LC, "Stabbing ice pick nipple pain means there's a problem with your latch." If you are experiencing "stabbing ice pick nipple pain," begin again with Step 2. If you are experiencing only "dull old bruise ache," then you are on the right track. Note that it will hurt either way. Feel free to complain to your spouse. Then ask for a glass of water and a cookie, pretty please.

14. Repeat every three hours around the clock for several months.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

And to all a good night!

That's how Charlie sent us out of his room after we tucked him in tonight. He's a little excited. Fortunately, I'll already be up feeding James when he's up rattling the baby gate at 5:30.

Back when I had two kids I bought adorable matching plaid flannel shirts for the three kids we would be taking to Christmas Eve church. I was quite proud of myself for being so prepared and even blabbed all over Facebook about how adorable they were going to look.

Then reality hit and today found Ryan and me leaving the kids strapped into the van in the garage (engine off) after a bilirubin recheck appointment for James that ran longer than expected and a last minute Target run (when we realized the kids would probably wonder why Santa didn't leave anything for James) while we frantically (five minutes, at the most) changed into nice-ish clothes for my aunt and uncle's annual Polish Christmas Eve supper, which was beginning in twenty minutes at a house thirty minutes away.

Instead of changing the kids into their Christmas outfits we grabbed three Christmassy looking sweaters out of Charlie's closet that they could throw on with the jeans they were already wearing and changed them in the car in front of my aunt and uncle's house. We had a lovely time at dinner and then went straight to church with James back in his pajamas after a diaper accident and a large borscht stain on Charlie's pants. Also, the big boys' jeans were soaking wet from mid-calf down because they couldn't resist jumping in a giant puddle on the way up the sidewalk. Special memories!

At the kids' service the kids get to choose a part in the Christmas pageant and go participate when their character is up. These two wanted to be shepherds.

Shepherds

We got James a shepherd hat too, but he had other plans. Namely, nursing in the cry room for forty minutes (He's asleep here, not nursing. We have yet to make that a beautiful, natural-looking experience, so no pictures.).

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Then we let Charlie handle fire.

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And then we went home for some traditional frozen pizza and baking of cookies for Santa. Charlie thoughtfully wrapped the cookies in foil and left his note nearby for Santa's perusal.

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Wes was too mad about not eating the cookies to have much fun during this part of the evening, but I think a good night's sleep will help.

Now it's magical Santa time for Ryan and feeding time for me. And hopefully we will all get some sleeping time tonight!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Poke poke poke

We have a baby! His name is James William, he was born at 10:00 this morning after an uneventful induction, and he weighs eight pounds and seven ounces. Or at least he did before he spent most of the last nine hours nursing.

The boys were very excited to meet their brother. They even remembered to pat him gently with one finger, just like we make them do when petting animals.

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We're so glad to finally meet him!

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And now I'm off to sleep!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I am still pregnant, do not get your hopes up

It might be a minivan, but under the right conditions Ryan can drive it like a Ferrari. Those conditions include me casually admitting that I'd been having painful contractions for the entire one-hour duration of church. But only after he'd taken me through the Dunkin Donuts drive-through for what I thought might be my last meal for a little while (egg and cheese croissant, chocolate cake donut, strawberry donuts with sprinkles for the kiddies).

Mid-way through the sermon I started to feel more uncomfortable than normal. It was a wild symphony of violent baby-kicking, low blood sugar, and some kind of slightly more intense than usual contraction. I also had to go to the bathroom. I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on, so I told Ryan I was feeling weak and hungry and we ducked out at the end of the sermon and went to get me something to eat and some water.

Once I was done with my snack I dropped the bomb about the contractions. And then Mr. Fifty-in-a-Fifty-Five was suddenly doing seventy on the highway. By the time we were driving into our neighborhood I was making plans on where we would leave the kids and who would call who. And also trying to keep my body in a perfectly straight, standing up position without taking off my seatbelt. Charlie asked if he could have fruitcake after lunch and I said "Whatever Grandma and Grandpa want to feed you is fine with me!" before gritting my teeth as we drove around a bend in the road.

Ryan started running stop signs when I told him the contractions were five minutes apart, but never really went away completely. He looked at me incredulously and when we got home sent me upstairs to lie down while he gave the kids their lunch. He joked that I should get out very gingerly so as not to douse the new car with amniotic fluid. He needn't have worried because by that point my entire midsection was seized in the never-ending contraction and there was no way out of the car except very, very carefully.

I picked my way up the stairs, changed clothes, and got in bed to time the contractions while Ryan gave the kids lunch. The first one came at 1:05. And then I fell asleep waiting around for the next one. I woke up at 1:40 with no more contractions.

The walk back down the stairs was mortifying. Ryan greeted me hopefully and reported that his camera and phone were nearly done charging, the kids had eaten, and everything was straightened up. I skulked to the toaster and made myself a bagel with cream cheese and tomatoes then sat down in my butt print on the couch and vowed not to move again until it's time to leave for the induction tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Last Hurrah

The night before Wes was born we took Charlie out for dinner and then walked around an outdoor mall listening to live music and enjoying the warm night. When I found myself in labor the next morning we joked that it had been our "Last Hurrah" before Wes was born. And it was the last thing we did for a long time that felt that relaxed. Wes was a unique newborn. I hope.

Today both kids took long, late naps so it was the perfect chance for a Last pre-Taco Hurrah.

When you let the kids pick the restaurant you go to Freddy's for hamburgers and chocolate milk. Ryan and I miscommunicated the order because Charlie was yelling about having to go potty RIGHT NOW BEFORE WE ORDER BECAUSE I CAN'T WAIT THAT LONG so Wes ended up with a burger instead of chicken nuggets and to my surprise he ate almost the whole thing, mustard, pickles and all.

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After dinner it was time for Stupid Human Tricks. Charlie is the master of sucking bits of french fry through a straw. The best part is that it doesn't look at all like he's doing lines of cocaine off the table. We're so proud.

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Then Wes joined in and it all became a little too Animal House for my sensibilities, so we loaded everyone back into the Swagger Wagon to go check out a tasteful little Christmas light display that someone in a neighboring town sets up at his house every year.

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They put on a whole show set to music and the trees flash and blink along with the songs, which you can play on your car's radio. Ryan-the-Electrical-Engineer always chatters the whole way home about how he could do something similar at our house. Charlie asked him to do just that tomorrow while he is at preschool.

The boys loved it and we stayed through several shows. Wes watched with rapt attention, occasionally shrieking "WOOK at DAT!!" or "COOOOOOOOL!!" Initially uninterested, Charlie passed the time by yelling non sequiturs out the window at passers-by. My favorite was when two teenaged girls walked by and Charlie yelled "We can open our doors from the inside!" Fortunately, the magic was enough to win over even a too-cool four-year-old after the first show.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

A new kind of cool

Seeing Ryan's dream car in the parking lot of the restaurant we frequent for breakfast tacos provided a poignant contrast on the day we were planning to go finalize a deal on a minivan.

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I may never drop a hundred and forty grand on a car, but my kids think I can fly like Superman!

The car we chose is one we had looked at a couple of weeks ago. Ryan found it on Craigslist and it had everything we wanted (Me: Eight seats. EIGHT. And an iPod port. Ryan: Good mechanical condition, reasonable mileage, yawn!).

We took it to a mechanic for a checkup, thought about it for a few days, then Ryan and the owner negotiated over the phone and settled on a price. I didn't tell the kids where we were going when we went to pick it up because Charlie's been begging for "the right minivan" ever since we started looking and Wes asks every night if tomorrow we could go "wook at cars?" We've been riding around in the van for twenty-four hours now and I think Wes still thinks we are car shopping. He's probably waiting for us to take him to Starbucks so he can drink chocolate milk while Ryan and I have a really boring conversation with lots of spelled words.

I got to tell Charlie the good news while Ryan went inside the house to sign the paperwork:

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Wes was unimpressed:

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After all the papers had been signed we spent an awkwardly long time milling around in the seller's driveway getting the car seats in the van and calling the insurance company to add it to our policy (seriously, sometimes it's like Ryan is the only adult in this family).

And then we drove both cars straight to Sonic. It's a family car-buying tradition. The kids wanted Ryan to sit in the back with them (Wes was not still asleep, just not cooperating). Ryan had to get out just before the food came for some reason and I had to throw Charlie's hamburger to him.

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Then the wind changed direction and it started to get cold, so I turned the key to close the windows and NOTHING happened. I fiddled with the shifter and pumped the brake a few times and tried again, also with no success. Weird! I guess the mechanic wasn't just being alarmist when he said we would need to replace the battery almost immediately. Ryan had planned on doing the battery that afternoon anyway, so he took the other car to go get some tools and a new battery while the overtired and now very bored kids and I stayed at Sonic. He returned thirty minutes, one spilled lemonaide slush, and four-thousand empty threats later and heroically installed the new battery to a chorus of little boys chanting "Yay, Papa! Yay, Papa!"

It started right up with the new battery, so I drove it home and installed the infant seat in the middle row, right next to Wes's seat. And then Ryan and I stood side by side in the driveway staring at all those car seats. I can't believe there are going to be PEOPLE in all of them very soon.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Charlie has been begging to dress up like a beautiful angel for the outdoor church Christmas pageant (with REAL! ANIMALS!) for several days. I'm so glad we made it again this year (Even though, you know.).

The pictures never disappoint:

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(I kind of love that Wes had to wear his wings like a backpack)

(Wes handed me his halo halfway through the show and and said "All done, Mama, want cookie now." Because naturally, they had been thoroughly bribed to ensure good behavior.)

I also dressed up like an angel because someone had to facilitate this magical experience and Ryan wanted to be a shepherd. I made a very round angel. People laughed involuntarily when they saw me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

As in, I am afraid I will be spending Christmas confined to the hospital with a bunch of grouchy nurses and support personnel. Because progressing from a fingertip to ONE FARKING CENTIMETER in TWO WEEKS is NOT GOING TO CUT IT.

The NP tried to make a joke out of it and suggested I carry Charlie around the block a few times, sort of implying that my recent frenzy of baseboard cleaning, mopping, and stairs vacuuming wasn't enough to move things along. I did not laugh. I thought about all the mean things I wanted to say. And then I planned my fifteen dollar Starbuck's drive-thru order as I lay helplessly on my back like a turtle trapped beneath a fifteen pound baby and waited for her to help me sit up so I could take a deep breath.

And then I put my clothes back on and called Ryan so I could spread the warmth and cheer of the holiday season with someone legally bound by God and the State of Texas to love me until I die. When I told him through gritted teeth about my "progress" he said "but I brought my camera to work today, just in case!" Then he suggested I go get something special to eat on the way to work. He gets me.

We're supposed to talk about "our" options at my next appointment, which is on Wednesday. The only options I want to be talking about on Wednesday involve which chair IN MY OWN LIVING ROOM is the most comfortable for nursing. And what kind of wine would I like with dinner.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Feathering

OK, so those of you who teased me yesterday about nesting because Ryan and I did six loads of laundry and I baked pumpkin bread and sugar cookies shaped like candy canes and made a big pot of chicken soup for dinner? And I scoffed that all of those things NEEDED to be done! The laundry was backed up because of the leaking washing machine! It's BAKING SEASON! That is practically liturgical, certainly not hormonal.

Well judging by the undeniable urge I had this afternoon to attack my kitchen with a dishtowel and a sinkful of Pinesol, you may have been onto something.

This morning I folded the last of the six loads of laundry and put some of it away and was ready to call it a day. But then Charlie decided to take a nap (miracle!) and Wes decided he'd rather watch Thomas the terrifying Tank Engine all afternoon, which I was juuuuust fine with me since it meant I could still carry out my naptime plan of doing absolutely nothing. But then I ran out of blogs to read and ate as many cookies as possible without Ryan coming home and thinking "what the heck happened to all the cookies?" and I thought "I'm just going to straighten up the lunch dishes and run the dishwasher."

An hour later I had scrubbed the baseboards and walls AND mopped the floor and 409ed the counters and cleaned the sink and started the dishwasher. My kitchen is GLEAMING my friends. Also, we are disgusting pigs for letting it get so bad.

And then I started to worry that I hadn't heard from Wes in a while. I went to check on him and found this:


No nap INDEED. I think I'll make these next!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

By Candlelight

Wes got excited when we all started changing our clothes after dinner tonight. Unfortunately for him, it quickly became clear that someone was going out and someone was staying home.

Brothers

That's because Charlie can handle long, solemn church services that begin an hour after bedtime. Wes isn't quite there yet.

Charlie and I went to the Lessons and Carols Advent service at my school. I have looked forward to it since last year's, which I spent in the lobby of the chapel following a not-quite-walking Wes around. I crammed myself into a pair of tights and my goin' out (and church and girls' night and Thanksgiving and eating at a restaurant with no clowns) dress even though 30 Rock and the comfy butt print I've made in our couch were SERIOUSLY calling my name.

Ready to go out

When we settled into our pew in the beautiful chapel I was so glad we'd made the effort. Charlie was pretty psyched about the candle they'd given me at the door but was oddly nonplussed by the choir who assembled in the back then processed singing "Once in Royal David's City" in a beautiful a capella. It was stirring. I will never know how I got so lucky to have found this school.

All ready for "Candle Church" (Lessons and Carols)

I was totally enthralled by the scripture readings and the hymns, which were chosen to compliment the different parts of the Christmas story, but by the third lesson and carol, bedtime caught up with Charlie.

He didn't make it past the third Lesson

He finds sacred music very soothing.

I was sorry he wasn't awake to experience the service, but it was so peaceful and cozy all snuggled up with the beautiful music and the solemn pace of the readings and responses.

And then we sang Joy to the World. I knew it was almost time to light the candles so I tried to wake Charlie up. He was out cold and nothing I could do discretely was waking him up so I let him sleep. We lit our candles and began singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing (my favorite!) as the choir began to lead the congregation out, starting with the front pews, everyone holding their lit candles in the darkened church. Charlie slept by my side through Hark the Herald and Silent Night as everyone filed out of the church. When I looked up from trying to gather our coats and figuring out how I would get him back to the car I noticed that the choir was standing right in front of us and we were the only people left in the chapel besides a couple of ushers and the chaplain.

Awesome

They sang "O Come, All Ye Faithful", sometimes accompanied by the pipe organ, sometimes a capella. All by candlelight. It was other-worldly, like a dream. Unbelievable.

And then when it was over someone broke the stillness with a silly little "whoo" and the spell was broken and the magical choir turned back into the scruffy college boys with the haircuts only a mother (or a mother of still-baby boys with ever-scruffy hair) could love. I somehow got Charlie to his feet and led him wearily out of the chapel into the cool night in search of a hot chocolate and a warm bed.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Days like this

Don't you hate it when your toddler is lying on the floor screaming about not wanting to get in the car so you leave the front door open while you strap the slightly more compliant preschooler into the car and while you're doing that your idiot dog runs out the front door and jumps on the neighbor's dog, whom your kids adore, and they both begin snarling and jumping around all ferociously, so you have to abandon the preschooler and run as fast as your poor overloaded pelvis can carry you and grab the dog and then when you turn around again the toddler is running out the front door still screaming, but now over the dog trauma, and heading for the driveway, so you have to throw the dog in the front door and run after the toddler and all the while you're yelling like an idiot in front of the whole neighborhood and now both kids are crying and asking if Rossby hurt the other dog, whom they love?

Yeah, I do too.